I spend most of my time as a positive thinker.
This is by choice, not by temperament. My nature is to be moody and grouch about what is going wrong in my life.
“Happiness is a choice that requires effort.” – Aeschylus
I don’t have a naturally sunny disposition. When I think positive, it is because I work at it.
Positive thinking is not really that important when you are in a good mood. The most important time to employ positive thinking – is when you are in a bad mood.
During a bad mood, it feels so good to revel in the difficulty and the conflict, doesn’t it?
Yet this is precisely the time when you need to get proactive. Take control of your thoughts. Make a choice that the life you live is a better one.
I don’t keep a positive mental attitude every day of my life. But I aim for it every day, and that constant recalibration keeps me on the side of the angels.
If I’m diligent and honest with myself and how I want to feel, then I can feel a bad mood coming on, and be proactive enough to turn around the process. When I notice this happening frequently, because my tendency has turned into the negative, then I counterattack with positive mental exercises.
Here are 3 exercises I use to turn around a bad mood:
The alarm goes off, and I snooze. But I have work to do.
During the 9 minutes it takes for the next alarm to go off, I lie in bed and recite affirmations.
The subconscious mind hasn’t been fully uncoupled yet, and it is at its most susceptible for suggestion.
I take advantage of this vulnerability, and hack into my mind to implant the thoughts and feelings that I determine are worthy for me to have guiding my waking life.
I am going to have a great day today.
There is so much to look forward to.
I am living a wonderful life.
I believe something wonderful will happen to me today.
Everything is going really well.
I feel luxurious. I feel happy. I feel safe.
I chant these beneficial thoughts to myself, until the second time the alarm rings, and then I move right into my daily rhythm. Shower, meditation, yoga, and breakfast, while my mindset is cushioned by the thoughts I have implanted during my Snooze Meditation.
Write 10 Gratitudes a Day
Having a gratitude practice keeps your lower emotions in check.
Your default mental setting is a place of appreciation, where you look around at your life and marvel at everything that is going well.
This is the place you return to, when your mind wanders, or you are tired, because it is the place you have practiced putting your mind.
Some days I miss my gratitude practice. But I return to it, and that counts more than meeting it every single day.
Sometimes I write in a gratitude journal that I carry around, or sometimes I keep a private blog for the purpose, and schedule a recurring event in my task manager to remind myself every day. At some point during my daily work, it comes up in my to-do list to take a break and write thank you, thank you, thank you for ten different things.
When I am in my practice, and doing this every day, I notice the difference.
When my focus wanders, and I start think about problems that are not really problems, I can fall into fretting. There is a difference in the flavor of the thoughts.
Bad thoughts of spite or revenge or judgement, they always have a hunger to them, as if having the thought makes you hunger for it more. But it’s not a hunger that fulfills your appetite, it’s the hunger of withdrawal.
Anger itself wants you to feel more anger, to feed itself, and to sustain itself into being.
I have seen anger take hold in people, so that their dominant thoughts were always angry and vengeful, keeping them always on the lookout for the chance to hate something.
And wouldn’t you know – they usually find it.
After walking the slippery mud on that downhill path once or twice, you can tell when you’re on it. The decline gets steeper as you go along, and there aren’t any handholds – but I’ve found an escape from this path.
It’s a rubber band on your wrist.
When I feel my mental toes sliding along the slick surface, and I’m telling myself a story about how wrong someone else is (for doing the dishes the wrong way, or walking in front of me in the road, or being my version of impolite) then I pull back on the rubber band and snap it. Hard.
This is called a Pattern Interrupt. It shocks you out of the state you are in, and deflects your momentum, using the fight-or-flight mechanism in the ancient part of your brain to override all of your thoughts.
The painful snap allows me to look around, get my bearings, and decide on a positive emotional state to stand on. I might need to take a few deep breaths, or take a walk, or recite some affirmations and splash some water on my face.
It only takes a moment, but if I do this three or four times during a difficult day, I can save myself a ton of grief.
Using the rubber band, I never have to wallow in the mire of negativity. I smack myself out of it as soon as I realize that I’ve fallen in.
The Practice of Positivity
Positive thinking is not just thinking sunny thoughts, pasting a fake smile on your face until you eventually feel it inside.
It is a practice. A state to which you can return, especially when your mind is flitting around from place to place, and needs a place to land.
To ground yourself in positivity means that you choose to return to the positive, day after day, despite your mood or circumstances.
Positive thoughts become the temple built to house your most sacred gift, the marvelous energy of your mind.